California Granny Smiths up to 12 days late

09/01/2010 12:49:10 PM
Andy Nelson

California apples are running late and in some cases facing stiff competition from rival deals.

Bidart Bros. Marketing Inc., Bakersfield, Calif., wrapped up its California gala deal Aug. 30 and began shipping granny smiths Aug. 31, said salesman Andy Poteete.

Poteete reported good quality and size heading into fall.

“Size and color have been better than the past three or four years,” Poteete said. “And there’s a good mix of sizes, maybe a little larger than in the past.”

The official California crop estimate still stands at 2.95 million cartons, 31% more than last year, but the total could wind up being closer to 3.1 million or 3.2 million, said Alex Ott, executive director of the Fresno-based California Apple Commission.

Typically, Primavera Marketing Inc., Linden, Calif., wraps up its gala deal by early September, said Rich Sambado, sales manager. But this year, because of a glut of galas from other growing areas, the company likely will ship galas into October.

New crop California galas, he said, were competing with old and new season Washington galas and imported galas from Chile and New Zealand.

By the week of Sept. 6 granny smiths should be in full swing, Ott said. A cool spring and temperate summer has produced a large, high-quality crop, he said.

The only downside is that shipments are about 10 or 12 days later than normal, Ott said. Early Michigan and New York harvests have cut into some of California’s East Coast business, and a late Chilean crop also has taken some more market share than usual.

Fortunately, however, delays in Washington left the West Coast door wide open for early season California fruit, Ott said.

That could change, though, particularly if Washington fruit normally bound for Mexico winds up in California because of Mexico’s new 20% tariff on U.S. apples, Ott said. The tariff — which also covers cherries, citrus and other items — is in reaction to the U.S. Congress shelving a plan that would have allowed Mexican trucks access throughout the country.

Bidart Bros. expects to harvest grannies through mid-October, Poteete said. Last year it shipped controlled-atmosphere California fruit into May. Poteete expected similar granny volumes as last season.

Primavera began shipping fujis the week of Aug. 23 and grannys Sept. 1, Sambado said. Early-season fujis were very large, peaking on 64s and 72s, he said.

On Aug. 31, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported prices of $24 for granny smiths 72s from Washington, up from $14-16 last year at the same time.

Poteete expected steady demand for California grannies in September.

“I wouldn’t say we’re tearing down any doors, but it’s been good,” he said. “There’s good interest in new crop. The Washington stuff is getting a little long in the tooth.”

Ott characterized late August markets as decent.



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